August 3, 2017
By Joel R Kolander
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Everyone seems to be have their eye on a snake gun these days, so we thought is best to take a minute to show you the crème of the crop in our upcoming September 2017 Premiere Firearms Auction. Before we begin, it bears a mention that there are FORTY Pythons in this sale, not to mention more than a dozen of other Colt snake guns like King Cobras and Diamondbacks. It’s pretty easy to see that this is a great chance for a bunch of collectors to add one of these fine revolvers to their collection. Here are some of the highlights.
Has there ever been a more American Python than this one? I like to call it “The Patriot Python.” It is slathered in American symbols courtesy of Master Engraver Howard M. Dove. Crafted back in 1978, it was only recently that this lavish magnum was featured on the cover(!) of the 2017 Standard Catalog of Firearms and given a full page description inside. Rightfully so, as this revolver has been smothered in high level engraving and gold inlays. I have come to the sudden realization that a gun is going to be good when describing the full coverage vine-pattern engraving is the least of your worries. With gold borders scattered throughout, the left side features a golden Liberty Bell in front of an engraved American flag, three Revolutionary War soldiers marching across a battlefield, and toward the muzzle of the barrel is a bald eagle clutching a banner than reads “Created By God.”
This corresponds with the right side eagle’s banner which concludes, “Protected By Colt.” This side features a gilded Statue of Liberty standing proudly on Ellis Island and on the cylinder is the flag raising at Iwo Jima. Thankfully, I had a jeweler’s loupe on hand to really inspect the incredible work and I was not disappointed at the near-microscopic levels of detail Dove put into his work. For example, you can actually see Ellis Island at the mouth of the Hudson River depicted behind Lady Liberty, even with the island’s buildings and an American flag on a flag pole, plus birds and clouds in the sky. Even the inscriptions are visible on the tablets she holds! The same attention was paid to the gold inlaid eagles, where no detail was spared to illustrate every feather, or the soldiers on the opposite side where even the textures of their clothes are depicted, or the Liberty Bell with its maker’s mark clearly visible and interrupted by its famous crack, just as seen on the real example in Philadelphia. If that weren’t enough, we haven’t even begun talking about the grips yet.
We’ll keep this brief and let the photos do the talking, but the engraving and gold inlays on the grips was performed by Master Engraver Leonard Francolini. Each side has a Colt symbol with a fleur de lis underneath it, the right side has the Colt Family crest in gold (though without the “Vincit Qui Patitua” banner commonly seen beneath it), while the left depicts the Rampant Colt. More impressive than these, however, is the gold inlaid and engraved butt plate, which speaks for itself.
…and don’t get us started on the exhibition grade rosewood case, French fitted with red velvet, and with a full complement of matching tools.
Rock Island Auction Company has been fortunate enough to offer several 1st year production Colt Python revolvers in recent years, however, in my searching I cannot find that we’ve ever offered a TWO-DIGIT serial number, 1st year production. To be specific, this Colt Python was shipped to Abercrombie & Fitch of New York on November 16, 1956 as stated in the factory letter. Considering that SN 170 sold for $17,250 in April 2015, one can only guess how much more a 2-digit example will take in order to bring it home.
You may have seen this one recently featured in one of our “Stroll with Joel” videos. There are other Pythons in this auction with higher estimates, but seeing a “behind the scenes” gun like this is always a rare treat, so I thought it deserved a spot here as well. The Colt factory letter from Historian Kathleen J. Hoyt comes with the headline “COLT PROTOTYPE PYTHON REVOLVER.” Among the standard information, the finish is listed as “Electroless Nickel with blue cylinder and sights,” and it mentions that no grips were included with the revolver. Just before the standard Colt letter closing, a remark is given stating, “Subject revolver was kept by the Colt factory as a sample of electroless nickel finish.”
In case, you’re wondering what electroless nickel finish is, it’s essentially a different way of plating nickel (or a nickel alloy) onto a firearm. It is a much harder, more durable, low friction, and corrosion resistant finish that applies more evenly to complex shapes such as revolvers. It’s no wonder that Colt would want to utilize such a finish, especially in high wear areas, and this Python was the model of this important manufacturing technique.
Collector friends, I cannot stress this enough, there are 40 Colt Pythons in our 2017 September Premiere Auction, including the ones you’ve seen here. It’s a tremendous opportunity to take home one of these extremely popular, high quality revolvers before their prices go even higher. Check out our online catalog today and find the one you’re going to take home.
Rock Island Auction
7819 42nd Street West
Rock Island, Illinois 61201
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